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Ragozin, trend management and automatic assessment

I've played a very instructive game today in a slightly modified Ragozin variation. It is interesting in three aspects.

Firstly, it shows that this variation, although popular at the highest level (on par with the Vienna QGD), requires some precision on Black's behalf. It is not that solid and, perhaps, it is more of a GM variation than a good choice at club/internet/amateur level. Of course you can't conclude that on the basis of a single game in which Black's choice of variation is dubious on move 4. But I see several arguments piling up in that direction. Opening fashion for GMs might be dictated by some reasons that apply at their level, not ours.

Second, it is a game about trend management. Black is caught in an unfavorable trend that cannot be reversed throughout the whole game. Stockfish's assessment reaches +7 with equal material on the board (and no obvious way for White to win material within the stated horizon). And then there is mate in two, still with equal material. Black plays some moves that make sense given his previous play, but only make his position worse in the medium run. Changing the course of the game would have been in order. Of course this issue is well-known, but I don't see it often in blitz or rapid games.

Third, automatic assessments are shown to be questionable in a much better position (winning but not immediately). Some of White's so-called inaccuracies are the simplest ways to maintain the favorable trend ; you can't get more than one point at the end of the game, and the best way to achieve it is the way that minimizes counterplay (i.e. risk). Also, in the end, my opponent got a warning message for "letting his time run down instead of resigning" ; I think that he was genuinely looking for a solution that wasn't there. In a position with equal material, a couple of minutes is not too much to realize that your position has gone so wrong that you're mated in two more moves. Don't get me wrong, a quick check with Stockfish at the end of a game is always interesting, but it has to be looked at critically.

This being said, enjoy the game itself. Maybe you will find it as entertaining as I found it instructive.
lichess.org/AdeRZUYH/white

You know I respect your analytical capabilities very much, but I have to be critical here.

1) I wouldn't call this a Ragozin. The Ragozin normally starts with 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bb4, as I'm sure that you know. "Modified" Ragozin also seems inaccurate because the position you got in your game looks nothing like any Ragozin positions, especially after 5.Qxd5 (which looks like an awful move to me, I have not looked at the engine eval)

2) It doesn't seem obvious to discuss opening trends in the Ragozin based on a game that has little in common with the Ragozin variation of the QGD. Like I said, that is not a Ragozin position, despite starting like a QGD with Nc3 and Bb4. If you look at the book starting from the normal Ragozin move order, I doubt you will find anything remotely similar to this game. I do agree with your comment about the Ragozin being a sharp opening that requires precision from Black (it also requires precision from White), but again, this game has hardly anything to do with that.

3) Black's problems had nothing to do with the opening. He just played bad moves. First he gave up the center by taking with the queen on d5, then he made non-realistic pawn moves ...f5 and ...b5 (and the passive ...c6) which created a lot of holes in his position while accomplishing hardly anything useful; and then he put his pieces on bad squares while neglecting normal development. Black lost because he didn't play chess according to the traditional principles of the game, not because the "Ragozin" (which this is not) isn't a good opening for non-GM players.

Don't take this personally! I like you as a guy, and as I said, I respect and value your analysis a lot, but I had to express my disagreement, and hopefully I did that in a respectful and kind way. Cheers!

Totally agreed ! It's not a Ragozin, and it is much further away from a Ragozin than I initially thought. It is actually a transposition into a mistreated Stonewall Dutch, with Bb4 and dxc4 (two moves that Black doesn't play in the Stonewall Dutch). Therefore my first point vanishes and the title of the thread should be "A middlegame resulting from an early trend, and automatic assessments".
Actually I should have noticed the similarity with the Stonewall because the moves I played as White are quite typical of the White treatment of this opening (g3/Bg2, Bf4, sending a knight to h3-f4,...). I didn't realize this when I was playing.

Yep, a Stonewall is much closer, but again, Black made a lot of moves that are just really, really bad, and that break the basic principles of how to play good chess. That sounds a bit harsh to the Black player but it's not that far off! :)

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